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Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 19, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+
Karuma is walking down the street when a pair of punks bump into him and try to start a fight. Koro zips up and licks the punks' shoes, apologizing and freaking them out until they leave. Koro tells Karuma that the secret to assassination is to only fight when you're trying to take out a target. Otherwise, you want to pretend to be meek and avoid conflicts so as to not draw undue attention to yourself. Karuma meets up with some of the other kids, and he asks if Itona still wants to fight him to see who is the strongest. Itona answers that had been the tentacles talking, and he accepts that Kuruma is the strongest of them. A few minutes later, they encounter a group of thugs that are harassing Yada. They run up to confront the enemy, but Karuma quickly realizes that all of them are soldiers, and there's a much stronger leader in the background watching the conflict, too. Karuma apologizes to the thugs, and they leave, telling their leader that they'll be able to kill every single kid in the class in 20 seconds. After this, the kids notice another adult looking at them. Seems that Itona's father had been searching for his son all this time, and he's relieved the boy is unharmed, showing to Karuma again that the decision to not buy a fight was a good one.
("His face is black when he's angry.")
Nagisa gets a letter saying that he's been accepted to his high school of choice. And now, the class is getting into the last couple weeks of their last year of junior high, so Koro is preparing individual class yearbooks for everyone, based on the 10,000 photos he'd surreptitiously taken of the students so far. He's in each and every shot, and the kids tear up all the photos he gives them. Then they take cosplay photos (with Irina and Karasuma in wedding clothes), and this is followed by a class trip to 30 different countries in one day for more shared memories. When that's done, everyone is exhausted, including Koro. He tells them to go out and make more of their own memories from here on out. Nagisa goes home, trying to decide what he wants to do in the future. He has to tutor Sakura from the pre-school group, and when she panics at the idea of going to a new school and being bullied all over again, Nagisa uses an "assassination" technique to calm her down. He then commits himself to becoming a teacher. Nagisa is the last student to give his plans to Koro, and Karasuma drops in to the room to see what the assassin is up to. Koro says that he'll stay in the school overnight to make the memory albums, and Karasuma relents and lets Koro make one for him, too. Karasuma goes outside, and calls some general to say that they can attack now. The General pushes a button and, high above the Earth, a floating solar-powered accelerator fires an "Anti-sensei laser beam."
(Koro works to help build life-long school memories.)
The beam hits the school, but Koro escapes outside just barely in time (he did take damage to one or two of his tentacles, but he recovers from that). He then notices that an "anti-sensei barrier" has been erected around the school, keeping him perfectly penned in. Koro is impressed that the government has worked this hard to kill him. The General wastes breath bragging that the laser is dubbed "The Spear of Heaven" and the barrier is "The Shield of Earth," but no one wants to stick around to listen to him. The drawback with the laser is that it takes a full week to recharge, and having it overhead for that much time would have attracted too much attention to it (it would be as bright as the moon), so they'd fired it when it was only at 30%. The military had also spent months building the barrier projectors on the tops of apartment and office buildings. The kids notice the commotion and they gather in the city. An army cordon has been thrown up all around the hill leading to the classroom, and the kids are prevented from getting past it. The government also starts a PR campaign against Koro, calling him a monster who had been terrorizing the innocent kids in 3-E. The monster must be stopped. This triggers a media frenzy, and reporters blanket the area, too. The kids retreat then regroup to try to explore the area and get more information. The General gets frustrated and orders his special forces man to deal with the problem. This guy was the leader of the thugs that harassed Yada at the beginning of the book - The "Holy Soldier," Craig Houjou. Houjou's men round up all the kids and bring them completely bound and harnessed to the combat HQ within a few minutes. The General tries to tell the kids that they don't understand the situation because they're still too young, so they need to be more obedient and let the adults do their jobs. Ryouma kicks him in the face to get him to shut up. A little later, Karasuma arrives at HQ, demanding to see the students, and the General starts getting frustrated that no one lets him introduce himself (we never do learn what his name is).
(The anti-Koro barrier goes up.)
Houjou takes his men to the hill to hunt Koro. At the same time, the reporters descend on the rest of the school to grill Asano. The school chairman spends a few minutes with them in "special briefing sessions," turning each of the reporters into his own zombie minions. The kids are put into a big holding cell, under guard, and all they can do is watch the news on TV. When Karasuma arrives, they demand to be released to save Koro. Eventually, Karasuma starts yelling, and slams Nagisa into the floor, saying that he needs them to help him. After he leaves, Nagisa says that this was a code phrase saying that it was time for them to act on their own. Karasuma had just given them a full briefing (360 degree barrier that extends under ground; Houjou and his trained soldiers on the hill; and the laser needs 7 days to recharge to 100% before firing). The kids knuckle down and start drawing up maps, sentry schedules, and exit routes. Meanwhile, Koro stays in the classroom and drinks ink to spray out from his tentacles to make personalized memory albums. The week goes by, and on the last day, the kids are getting desperate for a break. Suddenly, Irina bursts into the room past the guards and gives everyone big kisses. She tells them to stay healthy, and the guards usher her back out. Several of the kids spit out parts that Takebayashi identifies as one of his bombs.
(Koro makes personalized yearbooks for everyone.)
That night, they blow the backdoor out of the HQ compound, and meet Irina waiting outside for them. They continue to their houses to get their combat outfits and weapons. Nagisa's mother catches him there, but rather than being yelled at, Hiromi just tells him to do what he thinks he needs to do. She adds, "Don't do anything too dangerous," and watches in horror as Nagisa jumps off the 6th floor balcony to the roof of the building next door. The kids get to the foot of the hill and work their way up. This has been their training grounds for the last year, so it takes very little for them to subdue all of Houjou's soldiers. (The one thug that had insulted Karuma gets the special "Karuma treatment" of hot sauce up the nose and cockroaches taped to his face. The fact that Karuma hadn't fought them the first time caused the soldiers to under-estimate the kids now.)
(Karuma and Nagisa double-team Houjou.)
Houjou himself claims that his power is "switched on when he takes his glasses off." So far, he's been able to defeat whole squads by himself without needing to take his glasses off. He dropkicks a couple of the kids, but the rest of them follow the assassin's creed of keeping their distance, remaining patient, and waiting for opportunities. Finally, Nagisa gets behind Houjou, pinning him, and Karuma launches down from a tree to nutcracker the soldier in the head. Nagisa and Karuma congratulate themselves on their teamwork, as Houjou prepares to stand back up. So, the rest of the class tasers him for several minutes, while berating the other two for being premature. When they leave, Houjou is completely bound in duct tape. He's satisfied with the outcome because he hadn't taken his glasses off, and therefore hadn't been fighting at 100% when he lost. The kids get to the top of the hill, where Koro is waiting for them. They can get through the barrier easily because it's not designed to hurt humans. Koro says that based on the noise, they'd had a big fight on their hands on the way up, and that they did a good job. The barrier goes down for a second, then back up before anyone notices. Shiro and Shinagami 2 are now on the hill. It's 90 minutes before Koro must die.
The story is getting a little preachy, and Houjou wasn't that much of a threat. But, the artwork is great, and there are still some good comic moments. Highly recommended.
Inside cover quote:
Black means anger.
This is "Koro Gun Metal." But, it's not like that he loses himself in his anger.
Instead, this is educational anger.
Back inside cover quote:
This is a normal time.
This is a yellow tentacle.
Wriggle, wriggle, wrrr-iii-gg-lllle.